August 9th, 2003

H&R Coilover Install

I think I'm going to officially call the installation of my H&R Coilover suspension kit "done" today. Read the whole write up here. Check this out... this is how you compress a spring:

I drove my car back to back with a coupe with just H&R sport springs and I must say, the H&R Coilover kit is most certainly a different league. The car feels almost totally flat now. I just love it. Can't wait for the next track day.

I was so happy to have finally finished this job and really looking forward to getting reacquainted with my car. Unfortunately, someone had a different idea on this night... :-(

Exactly one week ago, when I had the interior of my car totally taken apart, I didn't want to park my car downtown since the stereo was all exposed so I borrowed my parent's 2003 Infiniti G35. Going over the Broadway bridge, the cars in front of me all of a sudden stopped, I stopped, the car behind me stopped, and the car behind her didn't, thus causing the car behind me to hit me:

Now on this night, I was sitting in a bar with some friends, with the 'coupe parked right outside the door. Right when I get done telling the story of the G35 accident to my friends, my one friend says, "Well at least it wasn't your car!" I swear, about 3 seconds later, as we're still laughing about it, the bouncer came up to me and said, "Is that your red car outside?" I say yes. He says, "You just got hit."

I went outside and saw a group of people standing around the car. The guy who did the hitting was standing there as well, and someone points me to him. The guy was driving a 1999 Land Rover Discovery. Apparently he had pulled up next to the car in front of me, thrown it in reverse, and proceeded to try and parallel park behind the car in front of me. Know what happens next? He said he didn't even see my car. "Damage" to his car:

See the bit of red paint? Come on, look hard... you'll find it. Bah. It was the guy's birthday, and he had just come from dinner at El Gaucho (they sell $60 stakes) with his wife/girlfriend. Who knows... could have had a bottle of wine in him too. The guy was very friendly and apologetic. The insurance card he had was expired, though... he had a whole stack of expired ones, but no current one. I'm not too worried, because I know that can happen. And it did just expire a few months ago. I wouldn't think he'd have a Land Rover and be eating dinner at El Gaucho if he didn't insure his vehicles. Oh, and he gave me his card, and apparently he's the Vice President of a bank in downtown. I saw him a few times walking around the bar and each time he offered to buy me a drink. The last time in the evening I saw him he had a cocktail in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. I think his wife was doing the driving the rest of the evening. :-) More pictures this morning:

What a bummer though. Right when I finished my suspension and was all happy and ready to enjoy it. And I had JUST gotten in an accident a week ago in the other car. Perhaps karma is pissed off at me for some reason. I didn't do anything bad... honest! Don't bad things happen in threes? Yesterday I got a ticket for no front plate (front plate patrol... great use of police time)... Can I count that as one of the three and be done with it? That's probably not big enough... maybe next weekend I should be sure to stay off of my motorcycle... But I'm not superstitious, so I'm not too worried. Here's how I'll look at it: I had a small rock chip in the paint on the door, and there was a bit of clear coat eaten away on the rear quarter panel from when someone egged the car. I get those two things repaired for free! Woohoo! Something like that... Oh well. One can't control these things, and they happen...

August 20th, 2003

Today was the BMW track day at PIR that I was suppose to do, but the car's still being worked on. Instead, I decided to go down to Active Autobody and visit it (also take the no front plate ticket out of the car for my court date). Things were farther along than I anticipated:

It was actually kind of sad seeing my car all taken apart like this... Especially considering I JUST had the interior taken apart the day before the accident to get to the rear shock mounts, and spent so much time getting it back together nicely to eliminate rattles. I'm sure they won't take as much care putting it back together as I did. Oh well. As you can see, they already have the rear quarter panel sprayed and on there. Just need to spray the door. They're also waiting on the door handle/lock assembly that was busted. Right now it's at BMW being coded to my key. This is expected to be done by Friday, so I may have the car by the weekend... most likely not, though. Probably early next week.

September 17th, 2003

Well I've been in the process of moving, so I haven't had much time to update the situation here... Unfortunately, Active Auto Body kept on delaying my car. I was first told it may be done Friday, August 22nd. When that didn't happen, I started calling on Monday the 25th. Every day I called I got, "Should be done tomorrow." Problem was, I was leaving for Hawaii for a week and a half on August 29th (another reason updates were delayed). On Thursday morning I got the, "it will certainly be done by Friday morning." Well, it wasn't. I left for Hawaii, and while at the San Francisco airport got word that it was finished. I had my friend Roy go and pick up the car for me and store it in his garage. When I came back on September 5th, Roy picked me up and brought me to my car. While I was away, Roy and his son, Tristan, thought they'd play a little "joke" on me and install some neat chrome windshield washers. At first I thought they were the Chrome Z8 nozzles from Roy's defunct coupe, but as I was driving away and put my turn signal on I saw how wrong I was... they installed these ricer nozzles that actually blinked blue when you put your turn signals on! Oh great, just what I need! Another thing to piss off cops!

I let those stay for a few days, Roy and Tristan got a great laugh at my reaction, and then we installed the Z8 nozzles, which look GREAT! I'll put pictures up shortly.

On a very terrible note... while my car was at Active Auto Body the chrome finish on the right side wheels had been eaten off in large sections. You can see in my log entry from August 9th that the wheels were just fine only two days before I dropped the car off with them. And now... (click on the images for higher res versions)

The damage is all around the perimeter of each wheel, and obviously happened while they had the car. In fact, I had just cleaned the car the day of the accident and would have noticed anything wrong with the wheels in my 45 minute wheel cleaning process. Also, while getting the estimate for the car, I asked Rich at the shop about the rubbing my tires were doing after the lowered suspension. I showed him where it was rubbing on both sides. I certainly would have noticed any problem while staring directly at the wheels at this time, too. And this was right before I dropped it off with them. It should also be noted that the above pictures were taken right after I washed the car, including the normal wheel cleaning process. During that process, no further chrome was removed from the wheels... so it's not like it's flaking off anyway. Something must have come in contact with the wheels that caused this to happen. I informed Active of this problem the first day they were open after I got back from Hawaii. Monday, the 8th I went down to the shop and showed them the damage. Rich told me, "There's nothing we would have put on the wheels to cause that." Hmm.. well obviously he didn't do it on purpose. He used Meguiar's wheel cleaner on the wheels, and that's it, he said. He asked me what he could have done to cause the damage. Obviously I didn't know, or this would have been simple. But actually, it is quite simple. I drop my car off with him and the wheels had no missing chrome. When I pick the car up there are huge sections of chrome missing from my wheels. Obviously it happened while it was in his possession. He said he'd look into his cleaner, etc. Besides the wheel damage, the door rattled like crazy throughout all driving. Also, something rattled terribly when the door was shut. Besides this, way too much noise was coming in the driver's side door (which was replaced). I heard cars way too loudly, too much intake noise, and wind above 30mph. On Monday, the 15th, I dropped the car off with them to fix these issues. At this time Rich told me there wasn't anything he could do about the wheels because there isn't anything he put on the wheels that would have caused that. Well obviously they didn't do it on purpose! I explained that it was quite simple... I dropped my car of with chromy wheels, and I picked it up with huge sections of chrome missing. It obviously happened while the car was in his possession. He didn't buy it, and suggested I may just have not noticed the damage. Give me a break. I explained how the wheels were pretty thoroughly examined before I dropped the car off, and even pointed him to the picture I mentioned above on this website. Walking out to the lot I saw my car with grease and finger prints all over the door, windshield, and window; they obviously had not even cleaned it after re-fixing the door noise. The rattle is now eliminated (they failed to tighten a safety reinforcement bolt in the door), and the wind/external noise is reduced, though not to pre-accident levels. How annoying. Yesterday, the 16th, I called Rich and explained in further detail how the wheel damage obviously happened while the car was in his possession. He wasn't impressed. He said that before he knew my wheels weren't stock he called the local BMW dealer who told him that they've seen a bunch of wheels coming in with the finish coming off. Well duh, obviously anyone reading this website probably knows of the finish problem on stock M Coupe wheels. He offered this as an explanation, and I told him that was a known problem with the stock wheels, not with these SSR wheels. He told me there was nothing he could do for me, and that he'd have the owner call me "tomorrow," which was today. I received no call. I will call tomorrow.

It's really a shame that Active Auto Body isn't accepting responsibility for what they did to the wheels. Previous to this, I've had good luck with them. Unless this situation is remedied, they certainly are no longer going to be the recommended shop to bring your car to in Portland. After I speak with the owner, I'll update the situation. It's not looking good for me, or them, though... baring a reasonable solution, I will be contacting the Better Business Bureau, Farmer's Insurance (who Active Auto Body is a recommended shop for), the local BMW ACA club, and spreading the word at all track and club events. I really hope it doesn't have to come to this, because previously I really did like their work.

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David Paris
Last modified: Mon Feb 23 18:20:09 PST 2004